Plans Take Shape for a Haverhill Grocery Co-op

Founding members of the Merrimack Valley Food Co-op during last year’s first annual meeting.

October is Co-Op Month.

October is Co-Op Month.

Plans for a cooperatively owned Haverhill grocery store are taking shape as members join more than 30,000 co-ops and credit unions across the country in celebrating Co-op Month.

Merrimack Valley Food Co-op is a planned member-owned grocery store that has been in the works for two years. The startup has partnered with such community organizations as Community Action Haverhill, Team Haverhill, Haverhill Farmers Market, Emmaus House and Pentucket Medical Associates, said founding member Suzanne Carey-Fernandez.

“This is a great time to be creating a food co-op with so much interest in eating locally and knowing where our food comes from. We are excited about the progress toward making our co-op into a great community grocery store,” she added.

Carey-Fernandez told WHAV the store’s opening is still at least four years away and members are seeking a location near or on a bus route. While a feasibility study will determine the size of the store, similar co-ops range in size from 5,000 to 10,000 square feet, she said.

The group is seeking at least 600 initial members paying a one-time $150 share cost, but there will be a “Membership for All” program for families that cannot afford the expense. Merrimack Valley Food Co-op has already received a donation to offset the cost.

Non-members will be able to shop at the store, but members would receive special benefits such as a dividend, based on purchases in a profitable year as determined by the board.

Membership information is available by emailing [email protected].

“Across New England, food co-ops help people build community,” said Erbin Crowell, executive director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA). “For example, the majority of our member co-ops have been in business for over 30 years, providing healthy food, jobs and a market for local producers for decades.”

The NFCA includes more than 35 food co-ops and start-up initiatives, locally owned by more than 107,000 people. Together, these co-ops employ more than 1,800 people, generate revenues of more than $250 million and purchase more than $50 million from local producers each year.